Why apply to be an Education in Ireland Student Ambassador? This is a good question!.
Students have busy lives, so adding another commitment can seem a big ask. But if you are the right fit, magic happens. So as we head towards the start of the new term, ahead of the tenth anniversary of this flagship programme, we thought we’d share the wisdom of some of our alumni and highlight just how much you stand to benefit from the programme if your application is successful.
This one tops the list every year. The single greatest benefit our student ambassadors get is that they make new friends, and have lots of fun in the process. Ambassadors come from every corner of the globe, from Nigeria to Vietnam, Brazil to Italy, to interact and do stuff together. It might be a trip to Glendalough, a lesson on the finer points of hurling (one of Ireland’s two national sports) or a potluck dinner, but as the Irish say, the ‘craic (fun) is mighty.’ For international students in particular, home sickness is not uncommon, at least at the start, so having friends in the same situation really helps. As we say in Ireland, share the load!
Learn to get the balance right
It’s no surprise that one of the recurring themes of ambassador blogs is the struggle to find the right balance between study, work (many students work part-time) and social life. Some find it easy, but for many more it really is a case of trial and error.
Every year though, we watch as students find their feet and strike a balance that suits them. They learn to meet work and study commitments while looking after their own well-being, and if they need help along the way, we (and the international offices) are here to offer support. It’s wonderful to see students proudly complete the programme and move happily into the next stage of their lives. They get a real sense of achievement that they carry forward into their personal and professional lives. It’s a win-win, we’d say!
“Everything has changed over the three months I have studied abroad – my way of thinking, my world view, my confidence and language abilities. I cannot pinpoint how deeply each aspect has influenced me but I think all of these factors have led to a new me.”
Linna Zhao (China)
Experience a new culture through a different lens
Getting to know a new (Irish) culture – and by extension, lots of others because you learn from your fellow ambassadors – is the natural consequence of being an international student in Ireland. If it’s not your native language, you also get to improve your (Hiberno) English! But being an ambassador brings an additional sense of purpose and responsibility because you get to voice your experiences on a platform where you’re representing your college, your course and even your country. As our Ambassadors get to grips with the programme, every year we watch their confidence and enjoyment grow as they dedicate themselves to it and share what they learn so they can help others in the future.
Studying abroad in Ireland was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When I first went over, I never thought I would be able to return just four short months after leaving. I was lucky enough to be able to return to Dublin in April after leaving Ireland in December for the Education in Ireland awards ceremony. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I am so grateful to everyone at Education in Ireland and the international department at Griffith College for making this happen.
Elizabeth Smith (USA)
Develop new skills
This year we’re going to be looking for more video content, and there will be training to assist this. But written blogs will remain important, not least because we find that good writing and presentation skills are in such demand among employers. Students enjoy the challenge of producing something to a specific brief, just as they would in a job, and many include their experience in their CVs to showcase not just ‘hard’ skills such as technical know-how, but also ‘soft skills’ like interpersonal and communication skills. Coming up with new blog/vlog topics – and new ways to talk about them – also pushes students to be more creative, and whether they are studying medicine or multimedia, everyone finds they enjoy the experience and get something useful out of it.
Prove yourself to employers
There is no pressure to apply for the programme; it’s entirely voluntary, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But the reality is that every year, without fail, our Ambassadors report how impressed prospective employers are that they took on the responsibility and successfully fitted it in alongside all their other commitments. Employers love to see someone hardworking who is dedicated to getting the job done, and willing to try new things and learn from it. Since Covid hit, part-time jobs are harder to find too, so voluntary experience is even more important.
Being a student ambassador is about far more than submitting a prescribed number of blogs/vlogs a year. It’s also about making a valuable contribution to an important conversation on what it means to be an international student in Ireland, so that others who are considering doing the same have the knowledge they need to meet the challenges of studying here and, most importantly, to enjoy themselves as well. And as previous student ambassadors will happily tell you, it’s all the more powerful because it comes from firsthand experience!
If I could advise anyone that is leaving their comfort zone to study abroad, I would tell them to see every assignment as an opportunity to surpass your own self-imposed limits; to see every class as a chance to learn something new; to see every task as part of your personal growth and to see every life barrier as part of your story.
Jessica Correa (Brazil)
If you would like to learn more about becoming a student ambassador, visit your international office or visit here